This holiday season, consider giving the gift of security with an ad blocker.
That’s the message drawn from an unlikely source – the FBI – which this week warned that cybercriminals are using online advertising in search results with the ultimate goal of stealing or extorting money. victim.
Before the holiday public service announcement, the FBI says cybercriminals are buying ads to impersonate legitimate brands, such as cryptocurrency exchanges. The Fed said ads are often placed at the top of search results but there is “minimal difference” between the ad and the search results, which can look identical to the brands cybercriminals are impersonating. Malicious ads are also used to trick victims into installing Malware disguised as genuine appscan steal passwords and deploy file-encrypting ransomware.
One of the FBI’s recommendations for consumers is to install an ad blocker.
As the name suggests, the ad blocker is web browser extension extensively block online ads from loading in your browser, including in search results. By blocking ads, victims will not be shown any ads, making it easier to find and access websites of legitimate brands.
An ad blocker doesn’t just remove the clunky stuff from a website, like autoplay videos and sparkling ads that take up half a page, making your computer fans run like jet engines. Ad blockers are also good for privacy because they prevent the tracking code in the ad from loading. That means advertising companies, like Google and Facebook, can’t follow you as you browse the web or find out what sites you visit or infer things you might be interested in based on your web history.
The good news is that some of the best ad blockers are available for free and can be installed and largely forgotten.
If you’re looking for a widely recommended ad blocker, uBlock Origin is a simple, low-memory ad blocker that works on most browsers, such as: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Operaplus The extension is open source so anyone can see the code and make sure it’s safe to run.
You can also get content blockers for Android and iOS to block ads from loading on your device.
Of course, you can turn off your ad blocker anytime you want and even allow or deny ads for the entire site. Advertising remains a big part of what makes the Internet largely free and accessible, including TechCrunch, even as subscriptions and paywalls become increasingly the norm.
While you’re here, if an ad blocker is right for you, check it out these other web browser extensions and features that make browsing safer and more private.